Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

at POTTS
–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
Buy the Issue In our Online Shop

Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
at LADIES’ ROOM
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
at SMART OBJECTS
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
at NAVEL
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
at LAXART
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
at MOCA PDC
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
Buy the Issue In our Online Shop

Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Reviews
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects

Home
at LACMA

Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Generous
Structures
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

Ma
at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Mertzbau
at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
at REDCAT
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
at LACMA
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room
at LACMA

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
and LOUDHAILER
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
at ASHES/ASHES
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
MEAT PHYSICS/
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
SOGTFO
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
@barnettcohen
Mateo Tannatt
Photographs
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe
at LACMA

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
Distribution
Atwater Village/Silver Lake/Echo Park
Marta
Larder
No Moon LA
Smart Objects
Tyler Park Presents
Umico Printing and Framing
Chinatown/Boyle Heights
Bel Ami
Charlie James
FOYER-LA
Human Resources
LACA
NOON Projects
Parrasch Heijnen Gallery
Sebastian Gladstone
SOLDES
Tierra del Sol Gallery
The Fulcrum
Wönzimer Gallery
Culver City/West Adams
Anat Ebgi
Arcana Books
Blum & Poe
George Billis Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Philip Martin Gallery
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
the Landing
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Downtown
Ace Hotel DTLA
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Baert Gallery
Canary Test
Château Shatto
Cirrus Gallery
François Ghebaly
GAVLAK
ICA LA
in lieu
JOAN
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Murmurs
Nicodim Gallery
Night Gallery
Over the Influence
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Royale Projects
The Box
Track 16
Vielmetter Los Angeles
Wilding Cran Gallery
Eagle Rock/Cypress Park
BOZOMAG
Gattopardo
la BEAST gallery
OXY ARTS
Historic South Central/Long Beach
Angels Gate Cultural Center
Long Beach City College
SELA Art Center
South Gate Museum and Art Gallery
Sow & Tailor
Torrance Art Museum
USC Fisher Museum of Art
Hollywood/Melrose
albertz benda
Bridge Projects
Diane Rosenstein
Harper's Gallery
Helen J Gallery
Lauren Powell Projects
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
Meliksetian | Briggs
Moskowitz Bayse
Nino Mier Gallery
Nonaka-Hill
Rele Gallery LA
Sean Kelly
Shulamit Nazarian
Simchowitz
STARS
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Hole
The LODGE
Various Small Fires
MacArthur Park/Pico-Union
as-is.la
Commonwealth & Council
Hannah Hoffman
New Low
O-Town House
Mid-City
Chris Sharp Gallery
Harkawik
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
Lowell Ryan Projects
Matter Studio Gallery
OCHI
Park View / Paul Soto
r d f a
Mid-Wilshire
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi
Craft Contemporary
David Kordansky Gallery
Hamzianpour & Kia
One Trick Pony
Pace
Praz-Delavallade
SPRÜTH MAGERS
Pasadena/Glendale
ArtCenter College of Design
Feminist Center for Creative Work
Junior High
The Armory Center for the Arts
The Pit
Office Space Burbank
Westside
18th Street Arts
D2 Art
Del Vaz Projects
Five Car Garage
L.A. Louver
L E  M A X I M U M
Laband Art Gallery at LMU
Marshall Contemporary
Paradise Framing
Von Lintel
Westwood/ Beverly Hills
CLEARING
M+B
UTA Artist Space
Non-L.A.
Art & Bodega (Claremont, CA)
BEST PRACTICE (San Diego, CA)
Bread & Salt (San Diego, CA)
Beverly's (New York, NY)
Bortolami Gallery (New York, NY)
Buffalo Institute for Contemporary Art (Buffalo, NY)
DOCUMENT (Chicago, IL)
Et al. (San Francisco, CA)
Left Field (Los Osos, CA)
Minnesota Street Project (San Francisco, CA)
Mrs. (Queens, NY)
OCHI (Ketchum, ID)
Office Space (Salt Lake City, UT)
Oolong Gallery (Salt Lake City, UT)
Santa Barbara City College (Santa Barbara, CA)
The Print Party (Pittsburgh, PA)
University Art Galleries, UC Irvine (Irvine, CA)
Verge Center for the Arts (Sacramento, CA)
Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art (San Francisco, CA)
Libraries/ Collections
Bard College, Center for Curatorial Studies Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
CalArts (Valencia, CA)
Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Research Library (Los Angeles, CA)
Marpha Foundation (Marpha, Nepal)
Maryland Institute College of Art, The Decker Library (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Emerging Leaders of Arts (Santa Barbara, CA)
Northwest Nazarene University (Nampa, ID)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Scholes Library (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego, CA)
Room Project (Detroit, MI)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, John M. Flaxman Library (Chicago, IL)
Skowhegan Archives (New York, NY)
Sotheby’s Institute of Art (New York, NY)
Telfair Museum (Savannah, GA)
The Baltimore Museum of Art Library & Archives (Baltimore, MD)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library (New York, NY)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)
USC Fisher Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art, Frances Mulhall Achilles Library (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Harald Szeemann at
the Getty Research Institute

Harald Szeemann lecturing in front of Werk Nr. 003 (undated) by Emma Kunz. Image courtesy of The Getty Research Institute and Emma Kunz Zentrum. ©Anton C. Meier.

Days after the news of Helen Molesworth’s contentious firing from MOCA went public, Artforum published an essay by the curator on the work of artist Simone Leigh. While restating the troubled history of museums as a Western colonialist enterprise, Molesworth made a more personal admission: “An overconfidence in the power of critique might be a vestige of privilege,” she wrote. “I confess that more days than not I find myself wondering whether the whole damn project of collecting, displaying, and interpreting culture might just be unredeemable.”1 Whether her remarks were intended as a kind of apology or a sign of professional ambivalence, the flurry of speculation surrounding her departure—which ranged from accusations of staff abuse to her radical support of black artists to her brusque treatment of members on the museum’s Board of Trustees—pressingly reflects, as Julia Halperin wrote for Artnet News, “broader tensions in the museum world over what, exactly, the job of a modern-day chief curator entails.”2

In 1971, famed Swiss curator Harald Szeemann also wrote a confession of sorts. Prominently featured in the introductory panel for Harald Szeemann: Museum of Obsessions, amidst a reverent portrait tableau of the curator, Collision + Harmony (Prayer) begins with the line, “I am privileged.” Indeed, at age 28, Szeemann was the Kunsthalle Bern’s youngest director, taking charge of the institution in 1961. Credited with inducting generations of conceptual and post-minimal artists onto the hallowed walls of the museum during the ’60s and ’70s, Szeemann cut a wide swath, introducing the public to a diverse and often eccentric set of artistic movements, from kinetic art to American photorealism to more obscure utopian folk art from his native Switzerland.

His notorious 1969 exhibition Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form was restaged at the Prada Foundation in 2013 during the Venice Biennale to much critical acclaim. The original presentation—sponsored by Phillip Morris and featuring an unruly group of artworks including a Michael Heizer piece that attempted to destroy the exterior plaza of the museum with a wrecking ball—was far more controversial, catalyzing Szeemann’s eventual resignation after an eight-and-a-half-year tenure. Soon after, he initiated The Agency for Intellectual Guest Labor, a single person entity whose sole proprietor was Szeemann himself. He even produced packing tape and stamps emblazoned with the logo and motto for his administrative front. On view at the Getty Research Institute in Harald Szeemann: Museum of Obsessions, these tools function as objects of parody and pragmatism, lending legitimacy to the curator’s newly independent endeavors by emulating the presentational and distributional systems of an “official” museum.

Taking cues from Conceptual Art practices and Fluxus aesthetics, such gestures aligned Szeemann as an artist rather than a stiff connoisseur. He has also been historicized as the first “independent curator”—a professional designation that has now become endemic to our neoliberal landscape and remains a symbol of privilege, manifesting in figures like Hans Ulrich Obrist, or any number of (usually white, male) directors wielding curatorial celebrity and power today.

Presenting the life and career of Szeemann through a dense selection of materials taken from his personal estate—a massive trove of 22,000 artist files, 50,000 photographs, 25,000 books, and countless other ephemera acquired by the Getty Research Institute in 2011—the exhibition’s hagiographic approach also implicitly traced the historical development of curator as brand. Three thematic groupings: “Avant-Gardes”; “Utopias and Visionaries”; and “Geographies” offered some structure for a rather compressed presentation that was comprised, not so much of artworks, but the fecund forms of art history: letters, sketches, photographs, and artifacts.

Only a handful of the art objects on view were recognizable as such: Marcel Duchamp’s Boîte-en-Valise (Box in a Suitcase) (1967) or Richard Artschwager’s blps (1967–2015). Address books, passports, and objects like Travel Sculpture (ca. late 1960s–2004), a slouchy Christmas tree made from Szeeman’s luggage tags that is both art object and archival record, all reveal the accelerated effects of globalization on curatorial practices. Other records reflect the broader global political climate: a touching April 1968 letter from Szeemann’s mother, for instance, pleads he use his Swiss passport rather than his English one and reprimands her son for visiting Cuba, and other “Eastern states” known for more radical politics.

Providing a compelling history of postwar exhibition making vis-à-vis the curator, what the multitude of materials also reveals is that even in Szeemann’s ostensible independence his curatorial endeavors were heavily reliant on an expansive network of professional and personal constituencies. When approaching the question of what a modern curator’s job entails today, this seems to be a critical insight. In a moment when media’s hegemony continues to capitalize on exacerbating political polarities and reducing complex events to more affecting hot-button issues, the act of critique is not a privilege, as Molesworth states, but a necessity. Rather than accept curators as mythic personas or radical individuals singlehandedly “undermining the museum,”3 we might instead position them as nodes in an intricate constellation of institutional powers, economic interests, and political agendas. Szeemann’s “prayer” concludes in the same way it begins, “I am privileged because I can call this moral/ethical conscience my own, and because everything is not so very simple.”

 

Harald Szeemann on the last night of documenta 5: Questioning Reality–Image Worlds Today at Museum Fridericianium (1972). Image courtesy of The Getty Research Institute. Photo: Balthasar Burkhard.


This essay was originally published in Carla issue 12.

  1. Helen Molesworth, “ART IS MEDICINE,” Artforum, March 2018, https://www.artforum.com/print/201803/helen-molesworth-on-the-work-of-simone-leigh-74304.
  2.  Julia Halperin, “Clashing Visions, Simmering Tensions: How a Confluence of Froces Led to MOCA’s Firing of Helen Molesworth,” artnet News, March 16, 2018, https://news.artnet.com/art-world/moca-helen-molesworth-tension-1246358.art-world/moca-fires-chief-curator-helen-molesworth-according-to-report-1243853.
  3. Christopher Knight, “MOCA Fires Its Chief Curator,” Latimes.com, March 13, 2018, http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-moca-fires-molesworth-vergne-20180313-story.html.